The latest version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that development whose primary objective is to conserve or enhance biodiversity should be supported; while opportunities to incorporate biodiversity improvements in and around developments should be encouraged, especially where this can secure measurable net gains for biodiversity. This principle of biodiversity net gain is likely to be converted into legislation with the passing of the Environment Bill.
Some larger developments are already using a biodiversity metric calculation to demonstrate net gain. For smaller developments using this tool may not be appropriate, but the principle of producing a biodiversity gain is still enshrined within WFE’s report output. Biodiversity gain may be achievable through provision of wild green space, through sensitive landscaping proposals, or by installation of wildlife features to benefit particular species such as ponds, nestboxes, dead wood or reptile hibernacula. Often the enhancements are placed within an ecological report, or separated in a Biodiversity Enhancement Plan or Landscape and Ecology Management Plan. Developers will need to consider the long-term upkeep of such ecological enhancement features within these plans.